Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have developed a new technology that helps to protect businesses from cyberattacks by monitoring unusual power consumption.
According to the research team, by combining a small piece of hardware to collect data with AI software, the technology can determine if a system's power usage is inconsistent versus its normally predictable patterns. If inconsistencies are found, the AI sends an alert to security officials that the infrastructure might be under attack by hackers or malicious ransomware.
“If suddenly, for instance, several machines exhibit a similar pattern of high-power usage in specific patterns, we would raise an alert that there might be spreading crypto-ransomware in the network,” said Sebastian Fischmeister, an engineering and computer science professor at the University of Waterloo.
The research team and spinoff company Palitronica Inc. are testing the technology which they say is designed to complement—not replace—existing security controls such as network intrusion detection.
“Ransomware and malware are serious threats to municipal governments. We have seen an alarming increase in attacks and are encouraged that the University of Waterloo, the security company Palitronica, and the federal government are working with municipalities to improve municipal IT infrastructure systems.” — Jamie McGarvey, the mayor of Parry Sound and president of the Association of Municipalities Ontario.
Fischmeister said the concept at the core of the technology means it has a wide variety of potential applications such as being used for water supply, 5G infrastructure, trains, and airplanes.
“The ability, speed, and accuracy of human triage activities of this unique Canadian technology show great promise to efficiently increase the safety and security of our Canadian Armed Forces,” said Eric Fournier, Director General Innovation, Innovation for Defence, Excellence and Security, at the DND.